Staub v. City of Baxley

Facts of the Case

was an employee of a union that was attempting to organize a labor union among the employees of a manufacturing company. She and another employee went to the town where the company was located and met with employees at their homes. A summons was issued and served by the chief of police commanding defendant to appear to answer to the offense of soliciting members for an organization without a permit and license. Defendant argued that the ordinance violated the First Amendment and


Does an ordinance requiring union organizers to obtain a permit before recruiting violate free speech?


Yes. In a 7-2 decision, Justice Charles E. Whittaker wrote the majority opinion reversing the conviction. The Supreme Court held that the ordinance violated free speech because it made the enjoyment of speech contingent on the will of the mayor and city council. The mayor and city council had too much discretion in granting or denying permits. Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote a dissent, stating that case should be left to the Georgia Courts. Justice Tom C. Clark joined in the dissent.

Case Information

  • Citation: 355 US 313 (1958)
  • Argued: Nov 18 – 19, 1957
  • Decided Jan 13, 1958Granted: Jan 14, 1957